Eliot The Metaphysical Poets Essay

In their poetry, he remarks: The force of this accusation lies in the fact that often the ideas are yoked but not united.But this is not blameworthy in itself, as it has been practised by a number of poets and even by Johnson himself.How far is this so-called school or movement a digression from the main current?

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This essay was originally a review in the London Times Literary Supplement (October 20, 1921) of the book Metaphysical Lyrics and Poems of the Seventeenth Century.

In this essay, Eliot discusses three questions: To what extent did the so-called metaphysical form a school or a movement?

The poetry of Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw, Cowley and Donne is usually called metaphysical.

However, it is difficult to find any precise use of metaphor, simile or other conceit, which is common to all these poets.

So it is to be maintained that metaphysical poetry is the elaboration of far-fetched images and communicated association of poets mental processes.

Johnson employed the term metaphysical poets, apparently having Donne, Cleveland and Cowley chiefly in mind.

Donne and often Cowley, employ a device which is sometimes considered characteristically metaphysical: the elaboration of a figure of speech to the farthest stage to which ingenuity can carry it.

Donne develops a comparison of two lovers to a pair of compasses.

He appeals to her using conceit implying that they should consecrate their relationship as if they were married.

By suggesting this he shows that he wants to commit to her and the seriousness of their relationship to him. This flea is you and I, and this Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.’ (Lines 11 – 13) In the latter part of the second stanza, he urges her to be logical and not deny sex from him because if she does she is indirectly killing him.


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